Friday, February 24, 2023

Getting Dismissed Like Drax the Destroyer

Suggested Reading: Luke 12:35-48

In the film Guardians of the Galaxy, Drax the Destroyer reached a turning point when he was beaten and dismissed by Ronan, the film's main villain. Up to that point, Drax's primary focus had been confronting and killing the villain who had murdered his family in cold blood. But in spite of the fact that Ronan was immensely more powerful than him and everyone of his associates wanted to stay as far away from Ronan as possible, Drax contacted Ronan with the hopes of drawing him out and confronting him. From Drax's point of view, Ronan may have been nearly invincible and certain doom to everyone else, but Drax thought he was the exception. Everyone else had to watch themselves and be careful. He would destroy Ronan all on his own. Only after Ronan easily defeated him and left without feeling the need to finish him off did Drax realize that the same cautions that applied to everyone else also applied to him.

In Luke 12, Jesus told a number of parables. Jesus used one of those parables to warn people to be ready for the coming of the Son of Man by comparing the event to a wedding and a home burglary, stressing the need to be alert and ready, watching for Him to come. Peter, apparently confused about Jesus' audience, asked, "Lord, are You telling this parable to us or to everyone?" (Luke 12:41, HCSB). Rather than answer him directly, Jesus tells another parable about the need to be alert and ready, watching for Him to come.

You see, Peter, being one of the twelve, had gotten it in his head that he would be by Jesus' side until Jesus ushered in the reign of Israel over the nations of the world. Somehow, Peter believed that he was special and didn't have to worry about the same things everybody else did. So when Jesus, who had been telling parables that had seemed geared to everyone across the board, shifted into the uncomfortable territory of teaching the need to remain alert for something he had assumed he wouldn't have to worry about, he needed clarification. Jesus' response robbed Peter of some of the certainty that he was alright and only other people needed to worry about being alert and ready.

Too often, we make the same mistake that Peter made, assuming that the messages and warnings of scripture (sometimes given through pastors, friends or family) are meant for other people and are not really for us. We can convince ourselves that we have everything together and God is really just speaking to that person over there. Like when the preacher brings a message on forgiveness and our first thought is, "I sure hope that bitter old man is listening to this," rather than thinking about the fact that we're still holding a grudge against someone. Or when we read an article on sexual purity and our minds immediately go to the pregnant girl at school rather than to images we've been viewing on our cell-phones in incognito tabs. Or when a call goes out for sacrificial giving and we never even consider giving more because we're already strapped for cash. In those moments, our voices echo with Peter's, "Lord, are You telling this parable to us or to everyone (else)?"

Let's not worry about who else needs to hear the message that we've been given. All we can worry about is the fact that we heard the message and our God is not a God of coincidences. We must take the message to heart ourselves. If we persist in believing ourselves immune from the same scriptural warnings as everyone else, we may end up defeated and dismissed just like Drax.

Only Casting Out the Annoying Demons

Suggested Reading: Acts 16:16-34 There is a sentence in Acts 16 that has always bugged me. Paul and Silas were in Philippi as missionari...